Sci on the Fly

World Water Day: Powerful Water, Thirsty Energy

It’s World Water Day. Designated in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, March 22 now represents a day to celebrate water. A day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water-related problems. And a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future.

To me, references to global water stress typically only conjured up platitudes such as “Every Drop Counts” and “Conserve Water, Save the Planet.” That's how it was until I started working at the Department of Energy.

It's Just Rocket Science

On October 28, an Antares rocket destined for the International Space Station malfunctioned on takeoff at Wallops Island, Virginia and was destroyed. Three days later and 2,000 miles away, Virgin Galactic’s manned SpaceShipTwo disintegrated during a test flight, killing one pilot and injuring the other. 

The Risky Business of Using Criminalized Drugs as Therapies

As Brian Bingham aptly pointed out in his blog post, everyone must take action to reduce stigma – both that of using “criminalized drugs,” and that of having disorders like alcoholism, depression and anxiety.  Since the turn of the 20th century, the public, the American government, and several other countries have been cultivating a culture of:

A.    Drugs are bad.
B.    People who take drugs are bad.
C.    There are no exceptions to points A and B.

Just Blog! Words from a Repeat Offender

At least once a month, AAAS Policy Fellows get an email from a Sci on the Fly editor with a suggestion for a blog post – it usually starts with, “Who can speak to this topic….”? I like to believe that most people a) read the email and then b) think, “wow, that would be a good topic for a blog” then c) if they are someone who can speak to the topic they write and if not, they are reminded of another topic about which they can write.

“Added Sugar”on Food Labels Gets Pushback from the Usual Suspects

Previously, I told you about the new FDA proposal to change current nutrition labels on food packaging. There were, in my opinion, some very practical and useful suggestions such as requiring a separate line for “added sugars.” This has drawn criticism from, you guessed it, the food industry. It seems like any time an industry risks a hit to their bottom line due to new regulation, they find something to howl about. This is precisely what they did at a public meeting on June 26th.

Could Science Find a Way to Negate the Need for Sleep?

When I was a child, upon waking in the middle of the night I would force myself to cry so that my mom would hear me and sit with me. I hated feeling as if I was the only person in the world awake. Of course I wasn’t – 65% of American report “frequent” sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep or waking during the night. A flurry of research has shown that poor sleep can have negative effects on everything from learning, to cardiovascular disease, to obesity.

Food Labeling Gets First Overhaul in 20 Years

The FDA has proposed major changes to food labels for the first time in roughly twenty years, with the goal of helping consumers make more informed choices about the processed foods they are eating. Huh, I just learned something new about how the American lifestyle has changed in the last forty years or so; up until the 60s, there were no nutrition labels! People didn’t eat processed foods, they cooked whole foods at home.

Wetlands Losing Ground on the Coast

I grew up on Cape Cod, in a house overlooking a salt marsh and tidal creek that were home to bluefish, striped bass, blue crabs, mussels, soft shell clams, “quahogs”, oysters, hermit crabs and fiddler crabs, not to mention the archaic and very cool horseshoe crabs. At low tide we roamed the mudflats, digging for clams and chasing fish with our nets. At dusk on full moon high tides, the bluefish and striped bass came in droves, jumping out of the water and sending my dad and uncle running across the lawn with their fishing poles.

The AIDS Epidemic as a Model for Action on Climate Policy

The science of climate change is firmly established.

Of course there are still many of the finer details to work out, but the basic facts are clear: the sea level is rising, temperatures are increasing, rare weather events are becoming more common, Arctic sea ice is melting, and across the globe ice sheets and mountain glaciers are shrinking rapidly--- and all of this is happening at a pace that both natural and man-made systems will have trouble adapting to. Bottom line: We know enough about climate change to know we have to act.

So why haven’t we?


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